The U.N. report on “climate change” released last month was different from previous iterations, even though it increased its level of confidence in its catastrophic conclusions to the “95 percent” level.

This version, the fifth the United Nations has offered since the 1990s, was met with well-researched criticism that, for a wonder, actually was reported in many major news outlets right along with the official claims.

The critics noted the new report included several alterations that had been made from previous versions, including the following:

• Surface warming leveled off about 1998, even though there has been a 7 percent rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide since then.

• Continents experienced a Medieval Warm Period and a Little Ice Age, contradicting “hockey-stick” accounts saying temperatures were level until the 20th century.

• Antarctic sea ice expanded between 1979 and 2012, which is inconsistent with predictions.

• Computer models utterly failed to forecast the observed plateau in warming.

There is now a major pushback against the assumption that the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are beyond dispute (often phrased as “the science is settled”).

In truth, the existence of hundreds of credentialed skeptics who disagree with the panel’s conclusions actually is a high-level example of the essential quality-control element of science itself.

Of course, that doesn’t make any difference to some people. In a note to readers in October, Los Angeles Times editorial writer Jon Healey said his paper refused to publish two classes of letters.

The first included letters saying “Congress is exempt from Obamacare.” Strictly speaking, that’s true, but Congress has voted itself and its staff subsidies paying 75 percent of the cost, subsidies that are not available to individuals making middle-class incomes.

The second type of letters Healey would discard are ones “that say there’s no sign humans have caused climate change.”

If you interpret his comment one way, there is a general consensus that carbon dioxide emitted by human activity since the Industrial Revolution does have some sort of warming effect.

Still, there is substantial dispute about how much carbon dioxide affects even the relatively mild (and so far beneficial) warming trend we have seen since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 1880s.

(Those who claim we have seen “record years” since that trend stopped in 1998 are measuring “bumps on a tabletop,” not any real upward trend, and ignore the fact that it was warmer a thousand years ago than it is today.)

But there is an another way to interpret Healey’s ukase, and it involves what the climate change panel and those who support it really mean.

To them, climate change is defined as a collection of predicted disasters, not a current set of observations.

So Healey almost certainly means that he won’t print letters that cast doubt on the whole panoply of catastrophic events that the theory predicts. That’s not “realism” — it’s censorship, pure and simple.

And it isn’t the only attempt at cooking the books that has occurred in recent days. It shocked even some who believe in the theory to discover that a number of world governments, including those of Britain, Germany and the United States, had pressured the IPCC’s authors to leave out any discussion of the halt in surface temperature rises entirely.

According to Dr. Benny Peiser of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (, which examines news worldwide about the topic, “Not only has the IPCC failed to predict the ongoing temperature standstill, its climate models actually predicted accelerated warming due to the increase of CO2 emissions.

“Instead of acknowledging empirical facts and growing uncertainties,” Peiser continued, “the IPCC is trying to divert attention from these key issues by claiming increased certainty about the reliability of climate models and their outputs.”

In supporting that omission, some IPCC backers have said that the present hiatus — in which temperatures have fallen below even the lowest level of increase predicted by all the major climate models — is a mere” “blip” in the historical record.

And yet, they point to the 22-year period between 1976 and 1998, when global temperatures were rising, as determinative about future trends. In what part of science is 16 years a “blip” but a 22-year span offers absolute certainty?

Peiser concludes the “95 percent certainty” designation places the entire enterprise at risk: “The IPCC has taken a huge gamble that will soon determine whether it is still fit for its purpose. Unless global temperatures will begin to rise again in the next few years, the IPCC is very likely going to suffer an existential blow to its credibility.”

Thermometers will move sooner or later, but will they go up — or down? Despite their protestations, the IPCC’s scientists and their political and media allies simply do not know.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at: [email protected]